Parth Prateem Sahu, J.
1. This petition under Article 226 of Constitution of India has been filed raising the issue of shortage of surface and underground water day by day and also insufficiency of potable drinking water due to silting and reduction of water bodies, encroachment over the banks of water bodies, excessive WPPIL-40 of 2019 use of surface and ground water for industrial use and also by use of underground water for the purpose of irrigation of agriculture lands during Rabi season. The concern has been raised towards the depletion of underground water level due to excessive use and misuse of water by industries as well as by the public at large for domestic use.
2. The petitioner in his writ petition pleaded that the river basins of Chhattisgarh i.e Mahanadi, Godavari are life lines of state but by passage of time the state has been industrialized and the population has grown rapidly. Waste water of the industries as well as the domestic use is being flown in the rivers, resulting pollution of water.
3. The water bodies in the state in shape of ponds, lakes, dug wells and springs are not being taken care of by the state and rapid increase in population is leading to uninterrupted encroachment over the water bodies by raising permanent construction on their banks and some of them were filled up for construction.
4. The ponds which were being used by public at large in earlier days as part of their life are not being managed by the Government in cities and the Panchayats in rural areas due to which there is reduction of water bodies causing problem for supply of water. The main concern of the petitioner which appears from the pleadings in this writ petition is depletion of surface water as well as underground water level. The petitioner pointed out that consumption of water for production of rice is much more. He also objected cultivation of paddy during Rabi season on the ground that more water is being exploited from underground source and further WPPIL-40 of 2019 there is exploitation of water for industrial use without making any regulations for use of water.
5. The petitioner in this petition also pleaded that the Thermal Power industries are also polluting water bodies due to their fly ash which is entering into the source of water and reducing storage capacity of the water bodies. No water treatment plants have been constructed in the area. The petitioner in his petition also suggested some plans to meet out shortage of water.
6. Under the head of long term plan, the petitioner suggested restoration of ponds in original condition, restoration and preservation of river banks, prevention of ground water contamination, preparation of integrated water resources management, planning for sustainable projects, rain water harvesting and government schemes for sustainability, proper operation and maintenance of water resources, formation of state water policy and on the second part, it is suggested for restoration of ponds, wells, storage of rain water, rain water harvesting for charging ground water, plantation of trees, reducing use of water and other plans. In view of aforementioned pleadings, sought for the following reliefs:
"10.1 This Hon'ble Court may kindly direct the respondents to plan and execute the following long term plan and short term strategy to combat drinking water scarcity from immediate effect as per the detail in para 8.19 and 8.20.
10.2 This Hon'ble Court may kindly direct the respondents to take immediate action or restoration of ponds, wells and Dhondls, protection of preservation of river flow to existing reservoirs, Storage of rain water and Roof water Harvesting, band on Effluent to enter WPPIL-40 of 2019 water bodies from industries without treatment, Ground water recharging, reviewing agricultural system, utilization of huge quantity of water from coal mining, plantation of appropriate trees, reduction in domestic use and saving of water, proper operation & maintenance of water structures.
10.3 This Hon'ble Court may kindly direct the respondents for evolution of various efforts and periodical monitoring."
7. The petitioner in person argued that water level either surface or underground is depleting very rapidly and during summers there is crisis of potable water. He argues that old water bodies which were constructed years ago for public use and life, were either silted or encroached upon by the residents. He also submitted that due to excessive use of water by the industries as well as by farmers, particularly during Rabi season when there is no rain fall, for irrigation of crops like paddy water used is from underground source through bore-wells, underground water in State is gradually reducing. The paddy crop requires huge quantity of water than other crops and the government should take appropriate steps / action for stopping cultivation of paddy during Rabi season. He also pointed out that due to cultivation and industrialization in the state of Chhattisgarh, so many industries of different sectors have been erected and started. For running these industries, huge quantity of water is required and most of those are being managed to fulfil the requirement through the underground source of water only or from dam or other water bodies. He also argues that the state government has not made any policy, rules and regulations with regard to use of water and also for protection and conservation of water bodies.
WPPIL-40 of 2019
8. In view of above, he submits that state government to formulate and execute the plans as suggested by him in paragraphs 8.19 and 8.20 of the writ petition.
9. Shri Gagan Tiwari, learned counsel on behalf of the State submitted that they have filed a detailed reply mentioning therein that the State Legislature has introduced Water Sustainability Bill-2019 (for short,'Bill- 2019') for protection, conservation, regulation and management of water as a vital and stressed natural resource. Bill-2019 was uploaded on Web cite in Hindi and English. Objections and suggestions were also called for from general public. After considering objections and suggestions received from public at large, the same has been finalised and placed before the department of Law and Legislature for approval. The suggestions made by the petitioner in this writ petition have already been taken care of in the Bill-2019. He points out that the issues projected by the petitioner have also been taken care of and were included by the Legislature under different provisions of that bill. He referred Paragraph- 3 of their return, which is extracted below for convenience:
"3. That, it is respectful submission of the answering respondent that, the suggestion (Long term and short term) by the petitioner has already taken care by the Bill, 2019. The issues projected by the present public interest litigation are enumerated below along with the provisions of the Bill, 2019 which redress the aforesaid issues:-
(i) That, Para 8.19 (b) relates to ponds in Chhattisgarh to be restored to original condition in State. Sub Section 6 and 7 of Section 6 of Bill, 2019.
(ii) That, Para 8.19 (f) relates to prevention of ground water and contamination. Sub 1 and 3 of Section 19 of Bill, 2019.
(iii) Para 8.19 (F) relates to Prevention of ground water contamination. Sub Section 8 of Section 6 of Bill, 2019.
WPPIL-40 of 2019
(iv) That, Para 8.19 (G) relates to Integrated Water Sources Management. Section 7, 12, 18, 20, 53, 54 and 55 of the Bill, 2019.
(v) That, Para 8.19 (H) relates to rain water harvesting and community. Section 55 of Bill, 2019.
(vi) That, Para 8.19 (I) relates to Convergence of Government Scheme for sustainability. Section 14 of the Bill, 2019.
(vii) That, Para 8.19 (J) relates to proper operation and maintenance. Section 36(a) and (b) of the Bill, 2019.
(viii) That, Para 8.19 (K) relates to water and environment. Section 6 (2) and (13) of Policy, 2019, clause-g of Section 18 (1) of the Bill, 2019 and Sub Section 1 and 3 of Section 19 of Bill, 2019, Proviso of Clause A of Sub Section 7 of Section 22 of Bill, 2019. Sub Section 7 of Section 53 and Section 55 of the Bill 2019.
(ix) That, Para 8.19 (N) relates to formation of water policy. Section 21 and 42 of the Bill, 2019.
(x) That, Para 8.20 (6) relates to effluent form industries without treatment to be banned. Section 53(7) and 55(4) of the Bill, 2019.
xi) That, Para 8.20 (xi) relates to reduction in domestic use and saving of water. Sub Section 3 and 17 of Section 6, Section 8(2), Section 9(2), Section 19(1), Section 36(5), Section 47 (3) of Bill, 2019."
10. Learned State counsel also pointed out that the State Government though have called for objections/suggestions from the public at large, the petitioner has not raised any objection nor suggested any thing within the stipulated period. He further contended that State Government has floated several schemes /programmes which are concerned with water conservation, its use and also steps to increase water level of surface as well as underground.
11. Narva Development Program, which is for removal of encroachment of water banks and to recharge and rejuvenate; Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY) for integration of water sources, improving water water efficiency, recharge of aquifers, activities relating to water WPPIL-40 of 2019 harvesting, crop alignment and feasibility of reusing treated municipal water etc; Jal Sakti Abhiyan is for rain water harvesting, reuse of treated waste water and rejuvenation of water bodies; Sarovar Dharovar Program relates to clean and rejuvenate the existing tanks within Municipal Corporation, Municipalities and Municipal Councils of the State; and Mission water conservation program. Agriculture department of the State has already issued directives for change of crop pattern in summer season and more emphasis is given for crops like pulses, which require less water in comparison to the paddy. While referring to Bill-2019, learned State counsel submits that the suggestion that raised by the petitioner in the writ petition is well within the knowledge of respondents/State and the State is vigilant with regard to the diversified requirement of water, optimize and use of water in an uniform manner.
12. When the case is again posted for hearing, learned State counsel pointed out that the Bill-2019 was approved by Law Department on 05.03.2020 and it is pending with Water Resource Department.
13. In view of submissions made by learned counsel for the State, pointing out that Bill-2019 was introduced, which was approved by the Law and Legislature Department, wherein all the grounds raised and suggestions made by the petitioner were taken care of, petitioner submits that he is restricting his case and submissions on only two points ie to restore the ponds and imposing restriction on sowing paddy crops during Rabi season.
WPPIL-40 of 2019
14. Learned counsel for the State replied to the submissions made by the petitioner and submits that the petitioner has not pleaded specifically in his writ petition nor supplied any details, specifications and particulars of ponds which, according to him, requires restoration. He further submitted that this is a 'Public Interest Litigation' and the petitioner is required to give specifications and particulars of the ponds which, according to him, is alleged to have been encroached and requires restoration, which is not there. He also contended that Hon'ble Apex Court has deprecated such writ petitions, where details and description is lacking. He also points out that if the petitioner says that water bodies have been encroached by any person, he has not specified the name of such person, nor has impleaded those persons in party array.
15. In view of above submissions raised by learned counsel for the State, he prays for dismissal of this Public Interest Litigation.
16. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and also perused the record.
17. The petitioner, who is appearing in person is a retired Engineer-In- Chief from Public Health Engineering Department of Government of Chhattisgarh. He has raised the issue of water depletion treatment, which is definitely, a genuine cause and it is concern of not only the petitioner, but all people of different sects, including the Government.
18. From perusal of pleadings made in the writ petition and also the submissions made by the petitioner as well as learned counsel for respondent/State, what is apparent that the State Government cautious, WPPIL-40 of 2019 aware of the issue raised in this petition and has formulated draft Bill-2019, which covers the grievance raised by the petitioner in this writ petition. Perusal of object for Bill-2019 covers almost all the issues/grounds and suggestions brought by the petitioner in his writ petition.
19. We have also gone through draft Bill-2019 and are satisfied that the issue and grievance raised by the petitioner have been taken care of in the Bill-2019. The Bill-2019 has also been approved by Law and Legislation Departments and in the process of its finalisation, for its having legal effect. Bill-2019 contains of nine chapters covering right to water for life, basic provisions, river rejuvenation sustaining echo systems of water, people centred water management, water use and land use provides of use of water, river basin development and management, planning for water security and sectoral use of water and establishment of Chhattisgarh Water Regulatory Authority, etc., are the issues and objectives of Bill-2019.
20. From the above, the main grievance raised by the petitioner has been taken care of by the State Government, by formulating the Bill-2019.
21. In view of above, in our opinion, no further direction at this stage is required as sought for, by the petitioner in his writ petition. So far as the submissions made by the petitioner with regard to restrictions to be imposed upon farmers of the State on sowing paddy crops during the Rabi season ie summer season is concerned, this issue is a policy matter of the State for which as per the submis
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
sions of learned counsel for the respondents/State, the State Government has already issued directives for adopting the water security cropping system, change in crop pattern we do WPPIL-40 of 2019 not feel that submissions of the petitioner requires any consideration by this Court at this stage. The submission of petitioner that respondents/State be directed to restore the ponds is concerned, the petitioner has not given any specific details or particulars of any pond, which according to him, has been encroached in any manner. For issuing any direction, there should be specific material to be placed by the petitioner, so that specific directions can be issued. The petitioner has neither given the area, city or village and the name of encroacher in this petition, nor have impleaded them as respondent in the party array. 22. In view of above, no relief as such can be granted to the petitioner in this writ petition, filed as 'Public Interest Litigation'. 23. For the foregoing reasons, we are not inclined to issue any direction in view of Bill-2019, which has already been drafted by the State covering the grounds, issues and suggestions made by the petitioner in this writ petition. However, the petitioner will be at liberty to bring to the notice of the concerned authority specifying the pond, its location and alleged encroacher by filing application before competent authority. If such application is filed, the concerned officer will be under obligation to decide the same in accordance with law at the earliest. 24. The Writ Petition is closed as dismissed.